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Marillion - Script For A Jester's Tear CD (album) cover





4.23 | 2008 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars This album has been a mystery to me for over twenty years. Why do people like it so much?

Perhaps I can supply an answer. It was issued in the same year that GENESIS and YES supplied the market with albums seen as betrayals of progressive sensibilties ('Abacab' and '90125' respectively). And look, here's a band playing like they were GENESIS from the 1970s! No wonder the progressive community lapped MARILLION up, to the point of inventing the perfectly silly genre title 'neo-progressive' to describe this so-called renaissance.

Trouble is, I did not share the progressive community's opinion. I found both '90125' and 'Abacab', while not either group's best work, to be perfectly acceptable offerings. This, on the other hand ...

I wish I could share your fun. I must say I rate 'Misplaced Childhood' very highly because of its integrated approach, and parts of 'Fugazi' appeal to me. I'm also a fan of HOGARTH-era MARILLION. This album, however, frustrates me. Everything is so obvious, nothing has any hidden depths, nothing invites me back for a second listen. I give it a spin every year or so, and I've yet to discover anything of interest. In fact, I listened to it three times over the weekend before writing this review. So, how does this album compare to those of their '70s heroes? Well, FISH'S obvious influence (to VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR fans, AT LEAST) is PETER HAMMILL, and Derek Dick is no HAMMILL. He struggles to sing (though he gets better on subsequent albums), and his lyrics are just too trite for the genre. Mick POINTER is definitely no PHIL COLLINS ... need I go on? There isn't a song here that can hold a candle to the acerbic lunacy of 'Lemmings' or 'Plague', or to the sweet melodies of 'Firth of Fifth' of 'Entangled.'

There are many other incongruous aspects to this band and album. MARILLION take their name from J.R.R. TOLKIEN'S masterwork, 'The Silmarillion', yet they seldom if ever reference fantasy motifs. What an odd choice of names for blue-collar proggers.

I respect the consensus of the progressive comunity, and acknowledge that in most people's eyes this is a five-star album. But it's important to have a variety of opinions, so here's mine. If you love melody and beauty above all else in your music, I fear this album may disappoint you, as it did (and does) me. On the other hand, the weight of evidence suggests that if you are a fan of '70s progressive music, you'll enjoy MARILLION'S first four albums, this included.

russellk | 2/5 |


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